Seething hatred is not something you often see from Michael Wilbon on “Pardon the Interruption.” So his harsh words for Kevin O’Neill the day that the latter was fired as USC’s men’s basketball coach were worth sitting up and taking notice of.
“There’s no chance that any athletic director with the permission of a president of a responsible university should hire Kevin O’Neill as a head coach,” Wilbon said after O’Neill was the subject of a “Happy Trails” mention on Monday’s episode. “That would be a wrong move.”
Even “stat boy” Tony Reali was taken aback, exclaiming, “Boom goes the dynamite!”
Why the harsh words from Wilbon? It likely stems from the ignominious legacy of O’Neill’s three years (1997–2000) as the head coach at Northwestern, Wilbon’s alma mater.
The Wildcats’ SB Nation blog, Sippin’ on Purple, wrote a Monday story on O’Neill’s firing with the headline “Historically Inept Basketball Coach and Awful Person Kevin O’Neill Fired Again.” It lists a host of unbecoming incidents by O’Neill such as allegedly nicknaming a Northwestern player a “C**tasaurus” that, indeed, make O’Neill sound like a first-rate jerk.
Which leads us to believe that Wilbon’s hatred for O’Neill is the norm within the Northwestern community.